I’m so sorry to the dads out there. I have talked about “mom guilt” and how palpable it is when we do certain things. Dropping the kids at daycare even when we have a day off. Spending time on my cell phone, scrolling Facebook and Instagram to catch up on the day’s news. But I never realized it was a thing for dads, too.
The other day, I was dropping off my younger two kids at daycare/preschool, even though I had the day off myself with my eldest. I ran into another dad, dropping his youngest off while he had his older two in tow.
“Dropping them off, huh?” he asked, sheepishly. We both eyed each other. “Yes,” I replied. “I feel a little bad, though, you know? Like, I’m home anyway, but I’m bringing them here.” He nodded and agreed. “Yeah, me too. I feel bad, but I know he’ll be better off here than at home. He will have more fun here.” He looked almost defeated, as he dragged his older two kids with him out the door. So, dad guilt DOES exist.
I’m not sure why I thought it didn’t. Maybe because my husband doesn’t talk about it with me. When I have asked him before, if he feels bad about leaving the kids at school late or bringing them on a day off, he shook his head. When I complained to him how I felt bad and how my other friends made me feel bad about bringing the kids to school on my days off, he literally shrugged it off. “Who cares?” Well, dear, I do. I’m not saying that he doesn’t have a soul. He just processes things differently than I do. Men are from Mars and all that jazz.
And now I realize men do too. Whether they show it or not, they do care. This dad, in his defeated look that he gave me, in the slouch of his shoulders, in the thrown together outfit and mess hair both he and I had to drop off the younger kids: I saw the guilt that I felt reflected back at me. And no matter how many times we tell ourselves to “not feel bad”, we still do. We wonder if we should keep them at home with us. We wonder if we should organize more outings, playdates, more sports. We spend our days worrying about these things, that seem so big and yet, they are just a blip in the lives of our children.
So to the dads out there. I feel you. No matter the guilt that you feel like moms do, it’s okay. It won’t make you feel any less guilty, as I never do. But at least you know we are united in our guilt and that worry about how messed up it will make our kids is actually a united front. I’m sure they will be fine in the long run.